It is widely recognized that educating women is one of the major keys to ending poverty at origin. Educated women tend to marry later in life and to have less children later in life. Where poorly educated women are often tethered to their homes and have little control over their own lives, educated women have a strong voice in their homes, and they demonstrate leadership skills in their communities. Yet, at origin, all too often young girls rarely are afforded any education opportunities at all.
The Kukuy Education Project provides scholarships to indigenous girls to attend middle school and high school in their home towns. Students are supported by an indigenous mentor who acts as an academic tutor, an advocate in the schools, and an advocate in the home, where students often must confront alcoholism, violence and abuse. In addition to academics, the mentor teaches life skills to the girls, including nutrition, health care, sanitation and reproducitve health. And, the mentor follows each girl’s progress in school ensuring that weaknesses are addressed and that she ultimately graduates high school. For those girls who qualify, every effort is made to gain access to outside scholarships and to take advantage of university scholarships to continue toward a university degree.
The Kukuy Education Project is located in the Ixil region of Guatemala in San Gaspar Chajul and San Juan Cotzal. It is one of the poorest coffee-producing regions in the world. There is little access to health care resulting in an extremely high infant and maternal death rate. Food is scarce after the coffee harvest. And, most Ixil children do not attend school past the second grade. The most common explanation for this is that there is no food at school for the children.
Isolated from European influence until the beginning of the 20th century, the Ixil region has been overwhelmed by the 36-year Guatemala civil war and the onslaught of cash cropping that has disconnected this deeply indigenous people from their roots, through which they survived the centuries on subsistence farming. Today, the countyside is blanketed with coffee plants and other agricultural commodities with precious little land left for families to grow their own food.
The Kukuy (Firefiles in Ixil) Education Projects ensures that young Ixil girls who complete the 6th grade are given the opportunity to attend the 7th grade until they graduate high school. Qualified graduates have access to higher education.
There is an added benefit. The Coffee Trust does not just work in one dimension in the Ixil region. The Coffee Trust supports, health care, food security and economic development in the region as well. This means educated young women will have other opportunities to employ their skills by participating in, or working for, our micro-credit program, our medicinal herbs and traditional medicines program, or our food security program.
Who Benefits From This Project?
The Ixil people are an ancient indigenous people, deeply connected to their Mayan roots. Currently 30 young girls are benefiting from the program that is on track to support at least 100 students over the next several years and at least 100 students every year afterwards as well. In addition, the families of each of these girls also benefit from the program. Herein lies the hidden benefit. In 5 years, there will be at least 100 hundred families who will have been involved in, and committed to the program. And, because each girl is supported for 6 years, each family is committed for 6 years.
In the deeply impoverished Ixil region of Guatemala, a region devastated by war and trampled by a world economy, at least 100 families will be committed to the development of their community not only through education, but also through health care, food security and economic development projects supported through The Coffee Trust.
The reverberations from these 100 committed families will be felt each year throughout the Ixil region encouraging thousands to look at education as a means toward overcoming the devastating poverty that characterizes the coffee-producing Ixil region of Guatemala.
How Can I Help?
As the Kukuy Education Program grows, we expect the financial need to exceed $ 100,000 every year.
A $ 350 scholarship contribution along with your 3 year commitment would ensure that a young Ixil girl could attend the first 3 years of middle school.
A $550 contribution along with your 3-year commitment would ensure that a young Ixil girl would attend the last 3 years of high school and possibly become a candidate to go on to the university. (It will be 2 more years before high school scholarships become available.)
A contribution of any amount will help pay the salaries of the mentors as well as pay for the transportation and supplies that the mentors need to tutor and train the young girls and their families.